The government's proposal to offer greater protection for copyrighted online content may be hard to enforce as many unauthorised sources are beyond the city's jurisdiction. In an administration paper delivered to a Legco panel on Tuesday, it was suggested that content streaming technology, when used to initiate an unauthorised distribution of copyrighted contents to the public, would be against the law. A government source said people who illegally provided content would be criminally liable whether or not the content was distributed for commercial purposes. However, the source clarified that viewers would not be liable. 'In other words, the offence will only cover the initiators, while recipients of the unauthorised content will not be in the criminal net,' the source said. 'This arrangement is broadly in line with our existing criminal regime.' Information technology experts warned that the proposal might be hard to police. Samson Tam Wai-ho, the chairman of the IT division at the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers, said a liable person would first need to upload the video clips to a web-hosting site, which would likely be outside Hong Kong, before a viewer clicks the link to begin watching the video by streaming. 'It would be easier to trace the users if they were charged a fee by the web-hosting sites. But most users are using free services, whereby the site could not reveal the details of the people who uploaded the unauthorised content,' he said. Mr Tam added that the law on streaming would hinder the development of content-sharing services, which were rapidly growing more popular around the world. 'In future, when the law is imposed, streaming websites in Hong Kong, including YouTube, will have to bear the responsibility to screen out unauthorised content uploaded onto the site as they might also be liable for initiating illegal acts,' he said. Charles Mok Nai-kwong, chairman of the Internet Society Hong Kong Chapter, said he believed the move was aimed at protecting copyright owners like TVB as more internet users were putting local television dramas onto the web. The paper will be discussed at the Commerce and Industry panel meeting next Tuesday.